Up Front

Dialogue: Yes! We Have No Bananas

What are the political -- and taste -- implications of the food industry-created banana monoculture?

Ann Friedman: The banana as we know it is about to die out. All of the bananas we consume in the U.S. are the same varietal, and one disease could wipe them all out. As a lifelong banana-hater, though, I can't say I'm too upset about it.

Adam Serwer: That's pretty callous. Bananas are the most-eaten fruit in the country. Plus, what about all those people whose jobs depend on bananas?

Ann: OK, let me revise that. I am upset at the implications for the global food system and for people who work in the banana industry. But not about the loss of bananas themselves.

Adam: But that's no reason to hope for banana extinction. Ann Friedman doesn't care about banana workers.

Ann: False! It's just that if I had to pick one industrially farmed food to go extinct, it would be the banana. They smell gross. They taste gross. They have a gross texture.

Adam: Look, I love bananas. They're easily portable, they're sweet, and they come in their own wrapping. What other fruit does that?

Ann: Apples. Pears. Blueberries. Oranges. Lemons. Grapefruit ?

Adam: The protective skin of a banana is far superior.

Ann: But think of all the people who have been injured after slipping on this "superior" packaging.

Adam: Think about all the people who have been given hours of joy and mirth from such slippage. Also, while I respect your foolish decision not to eat bananas, you shouldn't ruin it for the rest of us.

Ann: You could argue that, because I don't eat the factory-farmed bananas that have created the monoculture (and thus the risk of extinction), I am actually doing more than you banana enthusiasts to keep this fruit around, as much as it pains me to say it.

Adam: So in order to enjoy bananas, people have to not eat them and thus not enjoy them?

Ann: If every smoothie shop in America hadn't chosen to blend a banana into every single smoothie, where would we be? We might still have bananas in 20 years! For our children to be disgusted by.

Adam: Well, I'd say it's more that lessons were not learned from the extinction of the previous popular variety of banana. We have to hold our corporate culture accountable for not insulating the banana against disease.

Ann: True. Also, apparently there was a serious downgrade in banana quality in the late 1960s, when the previous mono-culture died out.

Adam: Right, for the same reason, from the same disease! They just used another variety of banana that was immune ... but it's not immune anymore.

Ann: Maybe I would have even enjoyed pre-1968 bananas.

Adam: We were so full of hubris -- and bananas -- that we didn't see this coming. It's a terrible tragedy. Almost Shakespearean.

Ann: They're like the Austrian royal family. Dead from inbreeding.

Adam: Well, that doesn't actually mess with my whole Shakespeare thing, does it?

***

The Question: What Else Should the Federal Government Nationalize?

"If they want a return to the taxpayer? The marijuana trade." -- Eric Rauchway, U.C. Davis

"Iceland, which will be used as refrigerated storage space and harvested foravant-garde pop musicians." -- Reihan Salam, The Atlantic

"The Republican National Committee. It's a natural under lemon socialism; we're only taking over those enterprises with a failed business model." -- Skip Roberts, SEIU

***

Parody by T.A. Frank

"Our new Public-Private Investment Program will set up funds to provide a market for the legacy loans and securities that currently burden the financial system."
-- Timothy Geithner, The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2009

Tim's Treasures: NEW toxic assets Legacy Loans: 2009 collection

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Starting bid: $8 billion for the proud and privileged few ($92 billion for the rest of you)

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Starting bid: Let's talk. Let's do lunch. We can definitely work out something that benefits you and us. Everyone wants this "crazy but in a fun way" deal to work.

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Starting bid: If you have read this far, then cancel your transfer of funds to Lagos and immediately park them in this limited-time-only offer. We want to work with you.

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